CIU brings encouragement to church leaders

Making a spiritual point: Bishop Dale Bronner dramatizes the breaking of a crayon, saying that even a broken crayon can still color.
January 26, 2021

First “Church Refreshed” conference hosted on campus

By Bob Holmes

As leaders of two different Columbia-area churches stood outside the doors of Shortess Chapel, they excitedly chatted about what they had just experienced inside at Columbia International University’s first “Church Refreshed” conference.  

Malcolm Walls of Sandhills Community Church and Freddy Johnson of North Point church agreed that the day of encouragement was just what they needed as the nation moves into the second year of a pandemic.

“It has been informational and it has also been compelling to actually prompt me to act and move in faith to continue to do the things God wants me to do,” said Walls who serves as the pastor of Outreach and Next Steps at his church.

CIU brought in five well-known church leaders for Church Refreshed, who were greatly appreciated by Johnson who is the lead pastor at North Point.

“Different speakers with different styles of communication … every session I’ve had something to take away from it,” Johnson said. “The reminder to us is that God has never given up on us and that He can accomplish things through us more than we can imagine.”

Nearly 200 people attended the event in person as COVID precautions were exercised, including masks. Over 80 people joined the event online. In the middle of the day, Church Refreshed host and organizer, Professor Dr. Andre Rogers said he had over 200 encouraging text messages from those watching online.  

Church Refreshed presentations were made by:

  • Dr. Mark Smith, CIU President (Leadership & Community Impact)
  • Bishop Dale Bronner, Founder/Senior Pastor of Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral in Austell, Georgia (Vision and Entrepreneurship)
  • Pastor Gerald Brooks, Founder of Grace Church in Plano, Texas (Prayer & Strategic Thinking)
  • Pastor Benny Tate, Senior Pastor of Rock Springs Church in Milner, Georgia (Raising Multiplying Leaders)
  • Pastor Conway Edwards, Founding and Lead Pastor of One Community Church in Plano, Texas (Reaching/Preaching: Millennials & Generation Z)

The lineup made a big impression on CIU junior Isaiah Mitchell who is majoring in Bible, and pastors a church in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.  

“Being here today has been an awesome experience,” Mitchell said. “Being able to hear from other pastors who have been on the road I am on now — it filled my heart with joy.”

Professor Rogers summarized the day as “encouraging, elevating and equipping,” adding that “God is up to something here at CIU, and we want to be on the cutting edge of that.”

He announced that another Church Refreshed conference is scheduled for Jan. 26, 2022.   

With record enrollment in 2020, CIU consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report, as well as a Best Value Regional University in the SouthRequest information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary at (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024 or